“We are working hard to bring injury prevention to the forefront. Injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults, from motor vehicle injuries to sport injuries; it is a huge public health problem,” said Dr. Karen Liller, USF College of Public Health professor in the department of community and family health.
Dr. Liller collaborated with Dr. Barbara Morris, director of sports medicine and performance at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, and other researchers to examine and report sports injuries among high school athletes. They have utilized the Reporting Information Online (RIO) data tool, an internet-based sports-related injury surveillance system, in order to garnish support for the role of surveillance in planning injury prevention programs for athletes.
Her report, “Sports injuries among High School Athletes in 15 West Central Florida Schools,” was published in the International Journal of Human Movement Science in 2015.
Starting in 2007, certified athletic trainers (ATCs) were hired and trained by researchers from the USF Sports Medicine and Athletic-Related Trauma Institute (SMART) to collect and report injury findings from high school athletes.
Schools were chosen for the study based on their willingness to participate, distance to health services, risk for injuries based on sports offered and their standing on having an ATC.
“We have consistently seen over the nine years of collecting data that sports such as football, basketball and wrestling usually have high numbers of injuries,” Dr. Liller said.
During the study, researchers not only counted the number of injuries that occurred for a certain sport, but also the amount of exposure the athletes had. Sports that have more practices and competitions allow for more exposure to injury risk, so factoring in the exposure rate can give researchers a better look at what sports have the greatest possibility for injury.
Generally the injuries reported were minor, but serious injuries did occur and several students missed days of school, practices and competitions.
“Most of the injuries are sprains and muscle strains, but we did see our fair share of concussions as well,” Dr. Liller said.